Historic Banknotes to be Auctioned

Two rare North Carolina banknotes will go up for auction on June 9. Both come from the personal collection of Henry Fries Shaffner, one of the original founders and first chairman of the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company.

The oldest of the two is an 1866 $5 note from the First National Bank of Salem, believed by the National Banknote Census to be the only one of its kind. The signature at the bottom is right belongs to the bank’s founder and first president, Israel George Lash, the grandson of Jacob Loesch, one of the eleven original Moravian settlers who traveled from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 1753.

The Moravians named the tract of land they settled “Wachovia” after the Wachau area of the Danube Valley, home to the estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf, the Austrian who sheltered them from religious persecution after they fled their homeland in Bohemia and Moravia (what is today the Czech Republic). There they built a town called Herrnhut on his estate, Berthelsdorf.

The town the Moravians founded in North Carolina was called Salem, and eventually merged with neighboring town Winston to create Winston-Salem. Parts of the original village survive as the living history site Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

The second note is an 1882 $20 note, called a “Brown Back,” from the Wachovia National Bank of Winston; it is only one of four known to exist. It has the signatures of William A. Lemly, bank president, and James A. Gray, cashier. The bank in 1910 merged with the Wachovia Loan and Trust Company to form the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company, with Colonel Francis Fries its as president and Gray as its first vice president. Henry Fries Shaffner, collector of the two banknotes, was the nephew of Colonel Fries and served as the bank’s secretary/treasurer.

— Some information taken from a history compiled by Louis A. Shaffner

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